American Islamic militant killed in Somalia: witnesses

A US Islamic extremist fighting in Somalia was killed Thursday in a shootout with Al-Qaeda linked Shebab militants, former comrades he had fallen out with, witnesses said.

Alabama-born Omar Hamami — better known as Al-Amriki or “the American” — was one of the most prominent foreigners fighting in Somalia, and the US State Department had offered a $5 million bounty for his capture.

“There was a gun battle between Amriki and his men and other fighters, the reports are that Amriki is among those killed,” said Moalim Ali, a resident in Bardhere district.

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Businessman Facing Corruption Charges Is Tied to Hillary Clinton

According to interviews and court documents discovered by The Washington Post on Wednesday, a Washington DC businessman allegedly spent more than half a million dollars on canvassing efforts for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and that same man is now under investigation for failing to disclose such efforts to the Federal Elections Commission.

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Pirates of the Caribbean sequel delayed

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The next Pirates of the Caribbean film has been delayed beyond its planned 2015 release.

Disney’s Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which sees Johnny Depp returning for his fifth appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow, was expected to go into production next year.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer told the Hollywood Reporter issues with the script and budget caused the delay.

He said he was now targeting a summer 2016 release.

“We have an outline everyone loves but the script is not done,” Bruckheimer said, adding: “We want a script that everyone’s signed off on and a budget that everyone’s signed off on.”

The delay follows the poor performance by Disney’s much anticipated summer film The Lone Ranger, also starring Depp, which earned just $29m (£18m) in its opening weekend in the US.

The film, which reportedly cost $215m (£136m) to make, has grossed $243m (£154m) worldwide to date.

Disney warned the film would amount to losses of between $160m-$190m (£104m-£124m) after heavy spending on promotion failed to bring returns.

Bruckheimer said coming up with a great script was “always hard,” and after this summer – which saw several blockbuster films perform poorly – “everybody’s more cautious”.

The most recent Pirates instalments, At World’s End and On Stranger Tides, were both released in time for Memorial Day weekend in September 2007 and 2011.

Disney previously announced the fifth Pirates film will be directed by Kon-Tiki filmmakers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

The four films in the franchise have grossed a combined total of $3.7bn (£2.3bn) worldwide, making Pirates Of The Caribbean the fifth biggest film franchise ever.

 

The Real Reason Microsoft Bought Nokia. Transaction Costs

As we all digest the news that Microsoft MSFT -0.27% is buying Nokia NOK -2.19%‘s handset division there’s increasing evidence of what actually drove the decision. And remarkably it’s all best described in the terms invented by the recently deceased Nobel Laureate in economics, Ronald Coase. It’s all about transaction costs, you see?

Here’s something from one of the Microsoft managers:

Nokia and Microsoft worked closely together on the company’s Lumia 1020, and Microsoft made core changes to its Windows Phone operating system as a result. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Windows Phone work have revealed to The Verge that Nokia was left frustrated by some Windows Phone restrictions on its Lumia 1020 camera software. Specifically, the restrictions made it difficult to store the large image files and make them easily accessible to phone owners.

These secrets secrets and frustrations will no longer occur, and the collaboration appears to have helped Microsoft realize its priorities elsewhere. A Bluetooth file sharing feature is particular popular in developing countries, but Microsoft wasn’t aware as US consumers don’t typically use it. “We didn’t even have that feature, and we didn’t even understand or appreciate the degree to which it was critical,” says Belfiore.

And here’s a piece discussing Coase and thosetransaction costs:

“I found the answer,” Coase recalled in his 1991 Nobel lecture, “by the summer of 1932. It was to realise that there were costs of using the pricing mechanism… There are negotiations to be undertaken, contracts have to be drawn up, inspections have to be made, arrangements have to be made to settle disputes and so on. These costs have come to be known as transaction costs. Their existence implies that methods of co-ordination alternative to the market, which are themselves costly and in various ways imperfect, may nonetheless be preferable to relying on the pricing mechanism, the only method of co-ordination normally analysed by economists.”

It sounds simple, but it was a groundbreaking insight because it explained why, for example, companies often became vertically integrated as they grew. Transaction costs are why a manufacturer of car tyres would come to own and operate rubber plantations in some fetid tropical country; not because its executives want to farm rubber, but because the transaction costs of not owning the supplier are higher than the costs of operating it themselves.

While Microsoft and Nokia were working closely together on the hardware and software for their phones they weren’t working together closely enough. Those pesky transaction costs getting in the way there. Thus the bet that by being owned by the same company those costs will be reduced and thus better phones will be made.

Well, it could work but I do wonder myself. For as another Nobel Laureate, Hayek, pointed out, all knowledge is local. So if the combined firm is managed from Redmond then there’s going to be a certain loss of that knowledge as it does or does not get transmitted up the managerial pecking order. Those Coasean reasons for the merger could indeed work out but only if the management and design work stays sufficiently local to the knowledge base.